Coach Steve Wilks said Thursday that Bucannon will serve as the weak-side linebacker in 2018, Darren Urban of the team's official site reports.
Bucannon, a safety in college, transitioned admirably to the role of dollar linebacker as a professional, racking up at least 80 tackles in each of his first four seasons. As the Cards move from Bruce Arians' 3-4 alignment to Wilks' 4-3, Bucannon will bump to Will LB in the base defense while playing the Mike position in nickel formations. In essence, he'll emulate two linebackers from Wilks' previous stop in Carolina, Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, both of whom have been objects of Bucannon's film study this offseason, per Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic.
Bucannon notched 82 tackles (58 solo), two forced fumbles, one interception and one sack in 12 games during the 2017 season.
After missing the last three contests of 2016 due to a high-ankle sprain, Bucannon eventually underwent surgery in May to alleviate the concern, but his recovery lingered into the regular season, resulting in three additional absences. He finally made his debut Week 4, and after a one-tackle performance, he recorded at least seven stops in six consecutive games. However, the dollar linebacker injured his ankle again just five snaps into Week 12 and was inactive one more time before playing the last four outings of the year. The injuries aside, Bucannon has averaged 6.5 tackles per game in his career, which could help him earn an extension with the Cardinals in the offseason. Otherwise, he'll play out the 2018 season on his fifth-year option.
Following up Wednesday's limited showing, Bucannon is ramping up his activity level after missing one game due to a ankle injury. When he was running on all cylinders between Weeks 5 and 11, he totaled 56 tackles (45 solo), one interception and one forced fumble in six games. The other two outings were a different story, though. In his season debut Week 4, he managed one tackle as he eased into action after months of recovery from May ankle surgery. During the other two Sundays ago, he suffered the current concern just five snaps into the contest and finished with one assisted stop.
Bucannon is critical in the run stop, so the Cardinals will have to search for a new solution against Rams star-RB Todd Gurley. Scooby Wright and Josh Bynes appear to be next in line, and Bucannon will shift his focus to getting healthy for a Week 14 matchup with the Titans.
Bucannon (ankle) is day to day ahead of Sunday's game against the Rams, Kent Somers of AZCentral.com reports.
Bucannon suffered an ankle injury in Sunday's win over the Jaguars, but there's still a chance he is able to play this week against the Rams. His status during practice this week will go a long way in determining that. Should he miss time, look for Scooby Wright to see increased reps with the starters.
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